When Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell retires on July 6, he will leave one other Black judge at the upper levels of the state’s judiciary-- Judge Clayton Greene Jr.
Greene was appointed to the appellate court by then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich in 2004. Greene, like Bell, has played an instrumental role in administering the state’s courts.
“He’s served with distinction at every level of the court system, very much like Judge Bell,” said Larry Gibson, a law professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.
He said that Greene has displayed leadership as an administrative judge, helping to ensure the upkeep of courthouse buildings, managing court case flow, assigning judges to courts and working as a liaison between counsel and judges.
“He has worked as an administrative judge, which is well-respected among both judges and lawyers. It would be hard to imagine a person more qualified than Greene,” Gibson said about the possibility that Gov. Martin O’Malley might nominate Greene to fill the chief judicial vacancy.
Born in Glen Burnie, Greene attended Pasadena, Md. public schools. He earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Maryland before becoming an assistant public defender in 1977. For 10 years, Greene represented clients in Anne Arundel County.
In a historic move in 1988, Greene became the first Black judge appointed to the District Court of Maryland in Anne Arundel County.
Greene’s law career spans nearly 40 years. During that period he has served as a trial judge and administrative judge until being elevated to the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County in 1995 as its first African American judge. He also served as administrative judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, which includes Anne Arundel, Howard and Carroll counties and the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the state’s highest court.
Baltimore attorney William H. “Billy” Murphy Jr. said he has long admired the strong work ethic and commitment to excellence Greene has exhibited during his career.
“He is tremendously intelligent. He has superior judgment and complete integrity,” said Murphy. “He has a very, very strong sense of fairness and it permeates not only in his judicial interactions, but in the way he treats other people.”